Minor League Report...May 28, 2011

The organization struggled this week, however, Beloit's nine game losing streak didn't help. The four full season teams finished at 10-16 with New Britain leading the way at 4-3 while Ft. Myers played .500 ball (3-3). Five teams will be in action next week as the Dominican Summer League begins today.

The Twins activated Jim Thome from the disabled list and re-called Jason Repko from his re-hab assignment in Rochester. Ben Revere and Luke Hughes were optioned to Rochester to make room for them. Glen Perkins and Kevin Slowey were both placed on the disabled list with Dusty Hughes and Jim Hoey recalled to fill their spots. Meanwhile, one reliever who could help remained in Rochester where Chuck James was named the International League Pitcher of the Week.

Rochester placed Jeff Manship on their disabled list with a shoulder injury. Ryan Mullins, who is coming back from last year's injury, was promoted to Rochester from New Britain with lefty reliever Jake Stevens also moving up to the Red Wings. Ft. Myers activated Tony Davis and immediately promoted him to New Britain as Stevens' replacement. The Miracle placed closer Dakota Watts on the disabled list while activating Brad Stillings.

Beloit activated catcher Kyle Knudson from their disabled list with Matt Parker going back to EST. Beloit also released lefty Martire Garcia. He was replaced by A. J. Achter, who moved up from EST.

Matt Schuld was our Player of the Week with 31% of the votes with Manuel Soliman five votes back.

This week's review follows the jump. With the draft only a few weeks away, I will focus on how the Twins draft picks from 2009 are doing. The Twins signed twenty-four players that year with six already out of the system. Billy Bullock, their second round pick, was traded to Atlanta so that the Twins could keep their Rule 5 pick, Scott Diamond. Buddy Monroe (22nd round), Trayvane Johnson (30), Frank Freitas (33), Peter Kennelly (38) and Paul Klingsberg (49) have all been released.

Rochester Red Wings (AAA) (2-4, 18-27, last place, -10.0 games behind Lehigh Valley)

The Red Wings week began with a four game series against Syracuse who came to town with a seven game winning streak. Ryan Mullins was very good in his first game back Saturday, allowing only one uneaned run in five innings. Unfortunately, the offense got only four hits in a 2-0 loss. The Wings lost again Sunday, 9-3, before winning the last two for a series split. Kyle Gibson threw five shutout innings with eight strikeouts in Monday's 5-0 win. The staff struck out fourteen Syracuse batters with Jim Hoey striking out the side in the ninth inning. Scott Diamond got his second win on Tuesday, allowing two runs in 5.1 innings. Luke Hughes was one of five Wings with two hits while hitting his first home run of the year.

The Red Wings moved on to Lehigh Valley on Thursday, losing a 3-2 heartbreaker. Andy Baldwin had another quality start, however, the Wings could manage only two runs off nine hits and three walks. Chuck James made his eleventh straight appearance without allowing a run as his ERA and WHIP dropped to 1.17 and 0.94, respectively. He also has thirty-seven strikeouts and only nine walks in 28.2 innings. They lost again last night, 10-2, with Ryan Mullins allowing three runs in 4.2 innings.

The only player from the 2009 draft to have reached AAA is first round pick Kyle Gibson. After moving rapidly last year from Ft. Myers-to-New Britain-to-Rochester, Gibson returned to Rochester this sping. Gibson, who has had quality starts in four of nine starts, pitched his best game of the year on Monday. In a team high 47.1 innings, Gibson has been solid but not dominant, with a 2-3 record, 3.80 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, forty-nine strikeouts and only ten walks. Gibson should be the first member of the 2009 draft class to make it to the Twins, likely this September.

When Ben Revere was optioned back to Rochester this week, Ron Gardenhire stated he would liked to have seen Revere stay with the Twins but understood he needed to get regular at bats. On the other side of that argument is everyone in Rochester who needed the spark Revere would bring to their lineup. And Revere has certainly done that, getting two hits in each of his first three games back with the Wings. Getting six hits in sixteen at bats (.375 average), with three runs scored, a double and triple in four games makes him an easy selection for Rochester's Player of the Week. Revere is one of the Red Wings leading hitters at .306/.348/.352. In 108 at bats, Revere has struck out only eight times while taking six walks with seven stolen bases in nine attempts.

New Britain Rock Cats (AA) (4-3, 27-18, third place, -3.0 games behind New Hampshire)

The Rock Cats continue to chase New Hampshire for the top spot in the Eastern League's Eastern Division. Game two of their head-to-head three game series last weekend was rained out and made up as part of a Sunday double header. Deolis Guerra pitched his second consecutive solid game, allowing three runs (two earned) in five innings. Tyler Robertson would come on to allow two runs in the sixth for a blown save. He picked up the win when the Cats came back for a 6-5 win when Joe Benson had a walk-off double scoring Steve Singleton and Chris Herrmann. The Cats would get an excellent start from Steve Hirschfeld in the nightcap when he allowed only two runs in six innings. Their bats were silent as New Hampshire pitchers held them to one hit for a 4-0 win, leaving town with a two game lead.

The Cats opened their series with Binghamton on Tuesday after another rainout Monday. Liam Hendriks allowed three runs in seven innings to pick up his fourth win, 7-3. Joe Benson and Mike Holliman were both perfect at the plate. Benson had two hits and a pair of walks while Holliman was 3-3 with a walk. They played two on Wednesday with Bobby Lanigan getting another quality start in the opener. The Cats won, 4-3, when Mark Dolenc doubled home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth. Yangervis Solarte had a pair of hits including a home run with Singleton and Solarte each getting two hits. Spencer Steedley made a spot start in the nightcap, allowing two runs in three innings before Santos Arias allowed four runs in an inning of work. Recently promoted Tony Davis pitched three no hit innings with three strikeouts, however, it was to late as the Cats lost, 6-2. The Cats would win the four game series Thursday behind Brett Jacobson, who allowed two runs in four innings of a 7-3 win. Tyler Robertson pitched three shutout innings to pick up his fourth win against two losses. Joe Benson and Mark Dolenc both had a pair of hits with Dolenc hitting a home run.

The Cats travelled to New Hampshire this weekend for another critical series with the league leading Fisher Cats. Deolis Guerra made the opening night start in a game that would get ugly. Guerra wasn't bad, pitching five innings while allowing six runs of which only three were earned. Santos Arias allowed nine runs in three innings of relief. What is unfortunate, is that the Cats wasted a game in which five hitters had two or more hits.

Although Dakota Watts, Kane Holbrooks and Toby Streich played briefly for the Cats last year, the only players from the 2009 draft in AA this year are Chris Herrmann and Tony Davis. Herrmann is a catcher who is also an excellent defensive corner outfielder. After hitting .310/.404/.425 in eighty-seven at bats for the Miracle, Herrmann was promoted to AA where he is hitting .257/.342/.429. In seventy at bats, Herrmann has struck out only eleven times while taking nine walks. Davis spent his entire spring on the Ft. Myers disabled list before joining the Cats this week. They will likely spend the rest of the season in New Britain with both having a real chance of someday playing at Target Field.

Mark Dolenc has quietly been one of the organization's better outfielders as he moved up a level each year until reaching AA a year ago. Management has noticed and rewarded him with some playing time with the Twins in spring training. Dolenc was very good this week, going 11-24 (.458 average) with two doubles, a home run, four runs scored and four runs batted in. Mark was four for four on Wednesday when he had a walk-off double in the Cats 4-3 win.

Ft. Myers Miracle (Hi-A) (3-3, 27-21, second place, -0.5 games behind St. Lucie)

The Miracle appeared to be out of their division race earlier this spring as St. Lucie built a nine game lead. The Miracle didn't quit as they continued to battle back, moving into first place earlier this week before slipping a half game back last night when they were rained out.

The Miracle closed out their series with Brevard County with their fifth straight win on Saturday. Edgar Ibarra picked up the win while allowing five runs in 5.1 innings. Aaron Hicks, Nate Hanson and Danny Rams all had two hits as the Miracle won, 7-6.

They travelled to Tampa where they won the opener Sunday, 6-3. Logan Darnell won his second straight game since moving up from Beloit, pitching 5.1 shutout innings with only two hits. Andrew Albers, who has been a solid reliever, pitched two shutout innings with three strikeouts. Six Miracle hitters had multi-hit games led by Nick Romero with three hits. Tom Stuifbergen made his best start Monday since returning from the disabled list, pitching 5.2 shutout innings. Unfortunately, Brian Dozier was the only player with two hits as the Miracle lost 4-1. The Miracle won game three, 5-4, behind last week's Pitcher of the Week Matt Schuld who pitched five innings with three runs. Brad Stillings pitched two innings of relief, allowing one run to pick up the win before Bruce Pugh got his ninth save. Kane Holbrooks had been pitching great while picking up six losses. He couldn't say that on Wednesday as he allowed fourteen hits and eleven runs in 3.1 innings as the Miracle dropped the final game of the series to the Yankees, 12-1.

Ft. Myers opened a weekend series against Clearwater at Hammond Field on Thursday. Edgar Ibarra made his best start of the year, pitching 5.2 shutout innings. Matt Tone would allow three runs in 2.1 innings of relief as the Miracle lost, 5-0. Last night's game was rained out.

As one might expect, there are six players from the 2009 draft currently with the Miracle. Brian Dozier (8th round) was a Florida State League post-season all-star after a mid-season promotion last year. He is currently the Miracle's leading hitter at .321/.423/.458 in 168 at bats. Dozier has twelve stolen bases in fifteen attempts with twenty-six walks and only twenty strikeouts. A solid defensive shortstop wih speed and excellent discipline at the plate, Dozier is likely the organization's top shortstop prospect. Another member of the class of 2009 who may have a big future with the Twins is their sixteenth round pick, closer Dakota Watts. If Watts hadn't recently been placed on the disabled list, he may have been the pitcher promoted to New Britain this week. In fifteen games, Watts has a 3.66 ERA, fifteen strikeouts and five walks in 19.2 innings. A hard throwing closer with good control has to have a future with the Twins, doesn't he? Another pitcher drafted in 2009 who has made a big impression is twenty-first round pick, Kane Holbrooks. He had an excellent 2.43 ERA in five April starts (29.2 innings), although his record was 0-4. He has struggled in his last three starts, however, should be in consideration for a promotion to New Britain when pitchers start moving up the ladder later this summer.

Brad Stillings (7th round) is again battling an injury coming off the disabled list this week. He has a 2-0 record with a 5.63 ERA in twenty-four innings after being one of Beloit's top starters in 2010. Matt Tone (14th round) has appeared in fifteen games (27.1 innings) with a 4.94 ERA, fifteen strikeouts and eleven walks. Fifteenth round pick Steve Liddle, who appears to have hit a wall after an excellent rookie season at Elizabethton in 2009 and solid season last year at Beloit, is hitting .210 average in 105 at bats for the Miracle.

With nine hits in twenty-four at bats (.375 Average), Nate Hanson certainly has to be considered for this week's Player of the Week. Add four doubles and four runs batted in gives him the nod as my selection, will he be yours? Hitting .269/.328/.382, the former Gopher is having a solid second year at Ft. Myers.

Beloit Snappers (A) (1-6, 22-26, sixth place, -12.0 games behind Burlington)

There aren't many positive vibrations coming out of Beloit of late. Only a game and a half out of a playoff spot a little over a week ago, the Snappers went on a nine game losing streak which is the longest since they switched their affiliation from the Brewers to Twins in 2005. Fortunately, the Midwest League has a first and second half champion so hope remains if the Snappers can get Oswaldo Arcia healthy and several other players back on track.

Their week began with a 6-5 loss against Kane County. Andrei Lobanov made his last start, allowing six runs in five innings before Ben Tootle pitched two shutout innings. Sunday would be another loss, this time 4-0 as the Snappers managed only three hits. Maunuel Soliman couldn't repeat last week's excellent start, allowing four runs in five innings. They would get swept on Monday, losing 8-5 behind a near quality start by B. J. Hermsen who allowed three runs in 5.2 innings. Lance Ray would get two hits including his fourth home run.

The league leading Burlington Bees came to town on Tuesday. The Snappers got only two hits as Adrian Salcedo had his toughest start of the year, allowing five runs in 4.2 innings of a 9-0 loss. Recently activated Pat Dean was good on Wednesday, allowing two earned runs in 5.2 innings of a 5-4 loss. Lance Ray and Toby Streich both had two hits with Daniel Ortiz getting his second hit of the week. Since Arcia went on the disabled list on May 1st, Ortiz has been hitting for only a .226 average as his unbelievable early numbers dropped to .290/.335/.519. A. J. Achter made his first start Thursday, replacing Lobanov in the starting rotation. Achter pitched three shutout innings with only one hit and five strikeouts. Lobanov came on in relief, allowing two runs in three innings which would be enough for the Bees as Beloit lost their ninth straight, 2-0.

The Snappers went on the road to Clinton last night where their losing streak came to an end. They beat the LumberKings 10-1 behind Manuel Soliman who pitched five innings with one run to pick up his second win. Nate Roberts, who had three doubles and a walk in four plate appearances, is off to a great start in A ball by hitting .329/.468/.435 in 85 at bats.

Three members of the 2009 draft class are with the Snappers, third round pick Ben Tootle, fourth round pick Derek McCallum and fifth round pick Toby Streich. Since being drafted two years ago, the hard throwing Tootle had appeared in only ninteen games prior to joining the Snappers last week. Derek McCallum is another player who missed much of last year with an injury. A former top hitter for the Gophers, McCallum hasn't been able to match that success as a professional as he is hitting only .196 average in 107 at bats. After making brief stops at New Britain and Ft. Myers last year, Streich is struggling with his bat this year. With eight hits in his last thirty-two at bats, Streich has his average up to .230 following a brutal April when he hit for only .077 average.

Last year's third round pick out of Boston College, Pat Dean, remained in EST until two weeks ago. He joined the Snappers when fellow lefty Logan Darnell moved on to Ft. Myers. Dean made the Snappers best start of the week against Burlington on Wednesday, pitching 5.2 innings with four hits, two earned runs and a strikeout. In three starts, Dean has a 3.07 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 14.2 innings with seven strikeouts and four walks.

As we approach the second anniversary of the 2009 draft, Kyle Gibson appears to be the first who will join the Twins, likely late this year. The second first round pick of that year, lefty Matt Bashore pitched only a few innings in 2009 before going under the knife. He remains in EST and what his future holds is unknown. Third round pick Ben Tootle likewise is working his way back from surgery. Billy Bullock was a good prospect, however, he was traded for Scott Diamond. Several other prospects who have a legitimate shot at the bigs include Chris Herrmann, Brian Dozier and Dakota Watts. Although there isn't a superstar for fans to be excited about, the class appears to have four or five players with a good chance of making it to the big leagues. Considering that any class with four players getting more than a cup of coffee is a good class, early indications are that the class of 2009 will go down as a solid draft for the Twins.

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